Two steel mesh products fail stretch test says Commerce Commission

Steel mesh is common reinforcement product in concrete slabs and driveways.
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Steel mesh is common reinforcement product in concrete slabs and driveways.

Two companies have agreed to stop selling two steel mesh products while the Commerce Commission investigates whether the materials are flexible enough under New Zealand standards.

Steel mesh is typically used as reinforcement in concrete floor slabs, driveways or pathways. 

​Initial testing by the commission showed the two products did not meet New Zealand standards for "ductility," which ensure the steel will flex and stretch under pressure or movement, such as an earthquake.

But the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment says it holds no safety concerns for houses which may have been built with two steel mesh products under investigation by the Commerce Commission.

The companies which sell the products, Brilliance Steel and Euro Corporation, have agreed to stop selling the products while the commission carries out more tests.

They had been sold since mid-2012. 

Euro Corporation is challenging the commission's testing, saying the product was passed by an accredited laboratory.

Derek Baxter​ of the ministry said it was "an issue of standards, not safety" and he was confident houses already consented with the materials would still comply with the building code.

"Whatever the outcome, people don't need to worry if they've built a house with a concrete slab in it since mid-2012 and one of these products was used," he said.

"However, while the compliance of these companies' products is under investigation, we're also advising that this product should not be used in concrete slabs that haven't yet been poured."

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Euro Corporation said it planned to meet the commission on Monday.

"We take standards compliance very seriously," managing director Randal McKenzie said.

"We are hopeful that this matter will be resolved and we will be in a position to resume sales of this product within a few days." 

Brilliance Steel operations manager Maggie Li, said Brilliance always sought certification before selling a product here.

"We will not release the products into the market until we get the test certificate."

Although the company sold other products, the decision to suspend sales was "very costly", she said.

Certified Builders Association chief executive Grant Florence said quality concerns about building materials were not an everyday occurrence.

He understood there could be 400,000 sheets of mesh involved in the case, but it was not a safety concern "because the mesh product was not required to be put into any houses prior to 2011." 

MBIE said that after the Canterbury earthquakes the "ductility" level of concrete slabs was raised to a minimum of 10 per cent instead of the usual 2 per cent. 

The products in question produced a result of 8 per cent, but Baxter said homes built with this material would "still be more resilient than the many of thousands of houses built prior to 2011".

Drastic steps such as ripping up floor slabs were "completely unwarranted".

The commission made no further comment, but said that misrepresenting a product as compliant when it was not can incur a fine of up to $600,000 per offence.

The products are: Euro Corporation – SE615-500STD (SE615) and Brilliance – 147E G500E ductile mesh (147E)

The Registered Master Builders Association and the cement industry body have advised their members not to use the products until further tests confirmed whether or not the products met the standard.

 

 - Stuff

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